Remembering C-3

As I entered the forbidden gates, leaving behind an action-packed summer for the fourth time, ready to begin the long awaited “1st year”, a strange and entirely different thought gripped me to the bone. My mind was in a whirl of ambivalent emotions: happy to be back at last and yet despondent over the fact that none of my best friends will be here anymore. Fate had played a nasty trick on me, and a queer some expression spread across my face. Why so? The story hitherto will suffice…

I became an ‘Abdalian’, member of the prestigious Cadet College Hasan Abdal, on the 21st of April 2004. I was to be a part of the 51st Entry and was allotted Omar Wing. Since my favourite colour was blue and the location was close to all the important places, Omar Wing seemed the right place for me, or so I thought! Little was I aware of all the surprises that I would experience during the next three years of my life in CCH.

The 8th class year, to my mind was a real bore! Sure, some say that it’s the most memorable time of their lives, but it’s not because if the ‘fun’ times they have experienced! It’s the ‘harsh’ times they spend together, gradually developing the familiar ‘entry spirit’. However, I was a true exception in this case and literally despised the ragging session. Naturally, my first year in CCH was not so interesting, partially because of the occasional ‘home-sickness’ and partially due to a strict and highly stressful environment in the Wing. So, why not leave it at that?

c3As soon as I entered the long awaited 9th class year, trouble (and loads of it!) came my way. One such instance was the day the new 8th class (52nd Entry) arrived. I had long anticipated their arrival and had a deep and desperate desire to seek vengeance from these poor, unfortunate souls. But, to my bad luck, I was caught red-handed in the act and was graciously
awarded by our loving House Master. Oooh! Even the mere memory of it sends a sharp chill down my spine!

However, it was during this year that I began to nurture great bonds of fellowship, especially with my O’ Level classmates. You may think that our classes, similar to the wing environment when I was I 8th, had a strict atmosphere, but you have guessed wrong! We set a new trend in which a light-hearted and sometimes humorous atmosphere filled the classroom air. I must say that our C-3’s outstanding O’ Level result was largely due to the relaxed and stress-free environment in class. However, it must be kept in mind that we never let our relaxations get the better of us and were fully appreciative of the seriousness of our Exams.

The 10th class year was the joy of a lifetime! C-3 was the only lucky group to have spent the Eid in college. All the other classes mocked our misfortune; unaware of the fact that it was inarguably the best time we spent in our entire three years stay! Even now when we sometimes gather for a party in a restaurant, ‘Eid in CCH’ is always a hot topic for retrospection. Not to mention that our Exam Results for the November Session were so extra-ordinary that no one could fathom how we managed to secure such high grades in a supposedly study-only environment and have fun at the same time!
The day our O’ Level classes began was the day the real fun began! ‘C-3’ was an exclusive 24-member club. We had a month before our final O’ Level Exams would begin. So, after a serious period of study during the Morning Preps, we would relax our minds by getting together in the café and having a light-hearted chat. Not to mention that we were finally rid of all the fall-ins and reports that were once part and parcel of our everyday life. The farewell dinner was also an unforgettable event.

Here is a brief glimpse of our various activities starting from the late-night inter-wing joys that we used to share, the birthday parties that we celebrated here, the private dresses that we used to wear, the thrilling games of truth and dare. The Eid here was truly rare, the feelings of having no worries, no fear, the night before Exams that we spent in prayer, and finally being able to keep longer hair.

But as the date of departure came near, it was time for us to pack up our gear; Oh! It was so unfair; we still wanted to stay in that loving care. Finally an end came to the three burning years, our eyes poured out streams of tears, but before going we made sure that everyone hears, our shouts of CCH’s famous three cheers.

But ‘Time flies’ as the say, and I could hardly believe that June the 13th had arrived: our last day in CCH as O’ Level students! This day signaled the departure of many of my best friends whom I might never ever get a chance to meet again! Even the iron will of a Cadet could not prevent tears from rolling down my sullen eyes. “How could three years have passed so quickly?” I asked in despair. I could hear the whispers of a faint. Mocking reply: “They just did!”

“Hurry up Awais! Or you’ll be late for prep.” The voice of Mehdi, my roommate, plucked me from my dream-cloud and brought me back to the Present. I now resided in the prized room on the 1st floor, one, which has a sole access to balcony. Yet my face only showed signs of sadness and despair. I knew this much that both my Omarian classmates would return and I would sadly have to do it without them. The Principal Prep seemed like ages, and all the while, memories of “C-3” induced a storm of emotions inside me. At last, the all-too-familiar whistle marked its end. “Thank God for that!” I exclaimed and proceeded towards Mess for dinner.
Now fate has a habit of playing tricks on me and even I could not possibly have prophesied what happened next. Just when I thought that none of my ‘Ex-C-3’ friends have returned, I saw to utter amazement that not one, not two, but ten other familiar faces lay huddled outside the Mess. “Could I possibly be dreaming?” I pinched myself hard to make sure. No, I was not!
“Yippee!” I cried in sheer joy and relief, and ran at full speed towards them, nearly jumping on top of them! They, too, were ecstatic to see an 11th familiar face, now a new glimmer of hope rekindled inside me, and the same old voice whispered to my ear: “The real excitement has just begun!” At that moment, the well-known, sparkling twinkle of the eye shone through like a
new born star!